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Crib Training

I’ve created a monster. Okay maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Really, compared to some stories I’ve heard, I have a perfect angel who sleeps wonderfully. He just doesn’t always sleep when and where I want him to.

There’s been a big debate at our house from the day Zeke was born… Schedule vs Demand. Schedule means you as a parent decide when it’s sleeping time and when it’s eating time. While you pay attention to baby’s cues and can slightly adjust… ultimately baby has to conform to your world. Demand says to pay attention to the cues baby gives you and he will let you know what he needs when he needs it. After all, if his tummy is hungry, he’s the only one who can feel that and let you know. BabyWise says Schedule. La Leche League says Demand. Schedule produces the safety of routine that leads to a good night’s rest for everyone. Demand produces successful breastfeeding that leads to a healthier baby.

I’m taking a big risk by even talking about this online. Parents on both sides will adamantly defend how their philosophy is the best for all children and how not going their way produces physical, emotional, and spiritual harm for your child. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about letting her infant cry it out one night and got lambasted in comments… and then the lambasters got lambasted by other commenters… so much so that I’m pretty sure she deleted that status! But here we go anyway…

Here’s what I’ve decided. Throw away the ^&*# books!!! This advice actually came from a former roommate’s mom just before Corey and I married. I was telling her about all the advice I was trying to soak up about marriage and how overwhelming it is. She said “Stop reading and just laugh.” Best marriage advice I ever received. People say the same thing about babies… they just don’t come with a manual! Moms survived and children slept long before BabyWise. Kids survived the “formula is best” era and are even healthy adults now. Here’s my philosophy… Surround yourself with other mothers, do your best, and trust your instincts.

That’s been working well for me so far. Zeke successfully moved from co-sleeping to his bassinet. He’s gained plenty of weight on breastmilk alone. I’ve become okay with giving a formula bottle every now and then for my own sanity. And we’ve had a healthy rhythm to every day that gives him a nap and I get stuff done.

And then work started… ruh roh.

I’ve got more to get done now. And now I have meetings and phone calls too. Naptime can’t be somewhere between 1pm and 4pm if I need to schedule a meeting.

And then to add complications, Zeke decided the bassinet AND the crib were not happy places. Only Mommy’s arms or the swing would do. It’s hard to respond to emails with a baby in your arms.

So beginning yesterday, I’m being a little more structured with Zeke’s day. He’s 7 weeks old now. I can pick out most of his cues… hungry or sleepy, more or less stimulation… and I know his basic rhythm. So the structure of the day can go along with his natural rhythm anyway.

But most importantly… we are learning that the crib is a happy place to be. Co-sleeping was great with a newborn and I agree that it was the best decision (and incredibly safe!) for both of us. But my mommy radar seems to be a bit more dull when I’m sleeping now. I’m not as aware of my position or Zeke’s position so I could absolutely see an accident happening. No more co-sleeping!

The swing seemed to be a great alternative. That’s a place that’s made for soothing and napping right? Except that I have a super active little guy. He likes to kick and reach and roll and this often means that he flops over in the swing. Strapped in so he doesn’t fall out, but talk about a compressed airway! He can breathe when that happens, but he couldn’t get out a cry to let me know. So Zeke could sleep in the swing, but I’d have to stay awake to make sure he doesn’t wake up and flop over. Bad idea.

So yesterday the crib became the place. If it’s naptime or bedtime… to the crib he goes. If he falls asleep in my arms… he gets a few extra snuggles but then to the crib he goes. If he’s fed, changed, and warm at night… to the crib he goes… and stays. That’s the hardest part. For weeks now at 3am when Zeke didn’t want to go back to bed after a feeding, I would bring him to snuggle in bed for a while, cuddle him on the couch, watch him in the swing… do whatever would make him stop crying and fall back asleep. Now… it’s back to the crib.

I set up Fort Mommy next to his crib last night. The rocking chair, footrest, pillow and blanket, reading material… Ready to go. I expected lots of crying, lots of spitting out the pacifier, and NOT lots of sleep. The afternoon naptime created this expectation… he fell asleep in my arms so I put him in his crib. The moment I laid him down those eyes would pop open. I’d secure the paci, tell him I loved him, and walk out. Screams. I’d give him 5 or 10 minutes, go back in, reset the paci, rub his back and talk to him until he calmed down again… walk out. Screams. Rinse and repeat for an hour and a half. Yuck.

The night went so much better I was shocked! He was done for the night by 7pm and couldn’t keep his eyes open. We took a long bath, took our time getting pj’s on and tried to stretch it out as long as possible but by 8:30 he was out. So into the crib he went and he slept pretty well until about midnight. But at midnight it was just a simple feeding back to bed and that went just as well!

And then the infamous 3am came around. I had expected as much… 7pm-3am is 8 hours of sleep… that’s a normal night for 0-3 months. So at 3am he got up, ate, blew out TWO diapers, ate some more, and then it was back to the crib. Not. Okay. I settled into Fort Mommy and defended the projectile paci spitting, the alligator tears, and the pitiful whimpers. I lasted until 5. Then General Mommy retired and was replaced by General Daddy. Daddy defended the fort for a bit longer… An hour I think and the battle was over. One blissful hour of sleep and then it was time to get up and get ready for work…. *sigh*

3am-6am is better than 9pm-7am… And Zeke is currently in his crib, quietly taking his afternoon nap. So while the war might not be won, methinks this is the right direction.